Friday, March 27, 2015

The Internet as a medium of trust

It’s been five years now since I’ve had the notion that eventually technology will enable us to connect with strangers and make new friends in a way that used to happen, say, in a small village.
The technology to make this possible is already there from a computer science point of view.
And I believe it is observable that, as a society, we are moving in the direction of accepting that new reality and embracing it, slowly, step by step.
The internet has become an “enabler of trust”.
A couple of examples follow.
Yesterday I finally met Brad Feld in person. I have come to know him from his blog over the last year or so; and he turns out to have been exactly what he had projected to be in his online presence: no deception, no disparity.
Increasingly, in the masonry contracting business, more and more customers are contacting me through email or SMS, then sending me pictures of the work they want done, followed by a quotation sent electronically by me, and proceeding to hire my company without ever talking to me in person or on the phone, simply based on my online presence.
That’s a powerful shift enabled by the proliferation of technology.
People have gradually learned to trust through eBay, Amazon, PayPal, et al, and now they extend that trust more broadly and will continue to do so in ways that would have been unfathomable a few decades ago.
And it would seem that placing confidence through technology is turning out to be more reliable than the old ways, more often than not.
We are headed towards a more transparent world, open to making new connections which are generated through technology rather than through geography.
This is a major cultural transformation.
I would say it is actually epic.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The serendipity that goes into being self-made

Fred Wilson wrote a blog post a few weeks back titled, “Finding Your Passion”.
In the middle of it he dropped this paragraph:
“We were visiting our families who lived in DC at the time and at the dinner table one night the Gotham Gal’s mom Judy who is no longer with us said to me “Get an MBA from one of the top schools. With an engineering degree from MIT and and MBA from a top school, you can write your ticket”. I liked the sound of that phrase “write your ticket” so I took her advice.”
I guess this statement needed to sink in for a while, but it has resurfaced in my stream of consciousness and it’s been in my mind for the last few days now.
Since the time when I was about 15 years old — when I first read the book “Think and Grow Rich” and a host of other similar works — I’ve held the belief that you make your own way in this world and you don’t need to depend on luck.
And yet, *every* successful individual I’ve personally interviewed (or have been listening to someone else interviewing them), has said that luck had played a significant role in their success.
And if I’m not mistaken, this is a essentially the point made by Malcolm Gladwell in his book titled, “Outliers.”
To counterbalance this nicely, there is also the well documented fact that perseverance eventually pays off.
It would appear, then, that there’s a real chance that someone could strive for their most important life goal and never achieve it, while someone else who is luckier will make it.
So what to make of this?
Here’s how I’m going about it personally.
1) I still personally maintain that luck is “preparation meets opportunity”; and so I keep on “preparing” myself, so to speak.
2) I’m not giving up on my goals, my aspirations of grandeur, whatever you call it..
3) I also appreciate the reality that I might not achieve them. And I’m okay with that.
4) I appreciate that most of the happiness is derived from the process and not from the end goal. And so I’m making sure to stop long enough to recognize pleasure whenever I’m experiencing it along the way, because it’s possible that it’s largely all I will have gotten out of the entire experience :-)
5) I count my blessings every single day, and appreciate what I already have.
6) I don’t neglect major aspects of my life while I try to reach my goal. My relationship to my wife is important to me. I make sure to keep the various parts of my life in balance and in alignment with my goals.
The above keeps me functional by remaining hopeful and enthusiastic while I’m persevering.